1) Choose a topic: Reflect on all the things you've learned and talked about this semester, and choose something that interests you!
2) Conduct preliminary research on your topic: See how other scientists have investigated your topic! You can review the scientific literature for a number reasons, including:
3) Create a research question & thesis: Your research question is a goal for your research. A research question should be substantial enough to form the guiding principle of your paper—but focused enough to guide your research. Alternatively, your thesis concisely states your initial answer to the main research question. It expresses a debatable idea or claim that you hope to prove through additional research.
4) Determine how your research will be relevant to other scientists: Explain the context of your proposal and describe in detail why it's important.
5) Put it all together!
Scientists use preliminary research to determine what they should study (topic development), how they should study it (methodology), and why it is important to study the thing (research impact).
The purpose of linking your research proposal to other scientific literature is to place your project within the larger conversation of what is currently being explored, while demonstrating to your readers that your work is original and innovative. Think about what questions other researchers have asked, what methods they have used, and what is your understanding of their findings and, where stated, their recommendations. Do not be afraid to challenge the conclusions of prior research. Assess what you believe is missing and state how previous research has failed to adequately examine the issue that your study addresses.
Reading a scientific paper is a completely different process from reading an article about science in a blog or newspaper. Here are some quick tips on how to interpret a scholarly, scientific article: